This week I drove on a gravel road outside the San Bernard NWR and passed by a three-toed box turtle (Carolina triunguis subspecies triunguis) crossing the road towards a forest. Remembering what my co-worker, biologist Jennifer Wilson, told me I helped it across the road but let it go it's way toward the woods. According to Jennifer box turtles are territorial and removing it to another area that may seem safer will confuse it and it will travel relentlessly to find it's original home range.
The carapace (top shell) of the Eastern Box Turtle is noticeably longer than wide, domed with a narrow keel lengthwise down the center, and has some flaring at the rear edge. The tallest point of the shell is well back towards the tail, so viewed sideways it'll be tallest at the back of the turtle. The carapace is light brown to tan with a few dark flecks on it. The plastron (bottom shell) is normally solid yellow without any markings, although the edges individual plates may be dark. Orange, yellow or red spots sometimes visible on head and forelegs. The subspecies in Texas (triunguis) almost always has three toes on each hind foot.
Box turtles are "dry-land" turtles and may be found far from a water body. Eastern box turtles are primarily a woodland species, although they may also be found along forest edges and brushy fields.
Noting the GPS coordinates of my sighting I filled out the TPWD report form:
and mailed it to:
Texas Nature Trackers
42100 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Three toes on hind leg.